New Arts and Social Sciences Dean

The University today announced the appointment of Professor Lionel Wee as the new Dean of its Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and Co-Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. Prof Wee will take over the helm from Prof Robbie Goh as the Faculty’s 18th Dean from 1 October 2021.

Currently FASS Vice Dean of Research and Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Literature, Prof Wee was appointed Provost’s Chair Professor in July 2017 for his outstanding scholarly achievements.

After graduating from NUS in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) degree majoring in English Language and Sociology, Prof Wee embarked on an academic career, joining the University as a Teaching Assistant with the Department of English Language and Literature. He was awarded the NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship where he pursued his PhD in Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof Wee was appointed as a Lecturer upon his return to Singapore in 1995, and rose the ranks to full Professorship in 2012.

“NUS is pleased that after a rigorous global search, Prof Lionel Wee has been selected to be the next Dean. He is passionate about high quality education and research, and has an excellent understanding of FASS and the University, having served in numerous leadership roles at the department, faculty and university-levels. I am confident that he will bring the Faculty to new heights of international excellence,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.

Besides serving as Vice Dean of Research at FASS from 2014 to present, Prof Wee was also the Head of the Department of English Language and Literature from 2010 to 2014. He had also contributed on various committees such as Chair of the FASS Faculty Promotion & Tenure Committee II, Chair of the University Mid-Term Advisory Report Committee, and Member of the University Promotion and Tenure Committee. In recognition of his dedicated service and contributions to NUS and education in Singapore, Prof Wee was awarded the National Day Awards Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 2020 and the Long Service Medal in 2018.

“I am excited and honoured to be given this opportunity to lead my alma mater as its next Dean. Having spent more than three decades at FASS, both as a student and a faculty member, I have experienced firsthand the selfless commitment of my colleagues and impressive insights our students bring to the study of the arts, humanities and social sciences. I am confident that together, we can continue to make significant contributions to society while enhancing our Faculty’s standing as one of the leading humanities and social sciences faculties in the world,” said Prof Wee.

Besides his passion in linguistics, Prof Wee feels very strongly about animal welfare and is also very much an avid city traveller, although the pandemic has put quite a damper on travel in the past year or so. He also enjoys the cafes, a habit which he picked up during his time as a graduate student in Berkeley. Students and colleagues at FASS may have many a times seen Prof Wee deep in thought at the cafes across the NUS campus. He is very much focused in developing a particular idea or argument once he is seated down and would need to walk around before he can move on to another new idea.

Prof Wee has published widely in international and local journals, and also sits on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and publications, including Applied Linguistics, English World-Wide, Multilingual Margins, The Journal of Asian Linguistic Anthropology, the “Cambridge Elements: World Englishes” book series, and the “Multilingualisms and Diversities in Education” book series. He is a well-respected scholar with research interests in the areas of language policy (especially in Southeast Asia), the grammar of Singapore English, metaphorical discourse, and general issues in sociolinguistics and pragmatics.

Prof Goh, who has served as the Dean since 2017, will be taking a leave of absence from the University. However, he will continue to contribute in the Singapore education sector as the new Provost at the Singapore University of Social Sciences from 1 October 2021.

Prof Goh said, “It has been a privilege and honour to serve as Dean of one of Singapore’s largest and most historied Faculties. I am grateful to my talented colleagues for all their hard work. I believe that together, we have brought the Faculty to new heights of excellence in teaching, research and service. I look forward to the work of creating new programmes and nurturing talent in my next role as Provost of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and hope that I will also be able to forge new ties and collaborations between the two universities."

Having spent more than three decades at the University, Prof Goh has taken on numerous administrative and leadership roles outside of the Faculty. He was Deputy Director of the NUS Centre For the Arts from 1996 to 1999, and Deputy Director of the Asia Research Institute from 2008 to 2010.

“On behalf of the University, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Professor Robbie Goh for his dedication and strong stewardship in leading NUS FASS. Under his visionary leadership, the Faculty has made significant contributions to the advancement of education and research in the humanities and social sciences. During his leadership, the FASS 2.0 Industry Tracks programme was started to enhance the employability of its graduates. New multidisciplinary initiatives such as the Philosophy, Politics & Economics programme were also established. The Faculty has also expanded collaborations with industry and further strengthened its high international reputation,” added Prof Tan.

Click here to read the full press release.